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Get More from Microsoft Excel
Part I. Design considerations, storyboarding, and basic formatting.
Design tips from the AICPA journal:
Before you create your spreadsheet, take a moment to envision the spreadsheet from the
perspective of the end user or client. What information is most important? What is the
client most concerned about?
Consider using a storyboard type approach and do a pencil sketch of what you want to
convey. Outline the worksheet’s requirements. What is the desired result? What input
will be needed? What output is the most useful? Who will use the information? What
are the client’s expectations?
Keep these fundamentals in mind:
Hard coded information and plug numbers should be avoided - always use data cells and
mathematical operations i.e. D5*SQRT(D3*(A9/C11)), rather than 25 *
37*SQRT(23(15/12)). Even if you are using a constant, place the constant in a cell and
refer to that cell in your formula.
Compose from left to right and top to bottom. Although there are always exceptions, the
more your spreadsheet follows basic left-to-right and top-to-bottom conventions the more
readable it will be. Your spreadsheet will be easier to understand if formulas generally
point to the left and up. A formula that depends on cells below or to the right will tend to
confuse your reader.
Keep associated information close together - to the greatest degree practical, use
alignment and formatting to keep labels, numbers and other connected information
physically proximal. Have short arcs of precedence. As with text and graphics, readers
want to see related information close together, in context. If related cells are far apart, the
context is broken up. Put related cells together.
Use additional sheets do display associated information - try to keep the client’s field of
view generally contained within one screen view. Use additional worksheets to display
supporting or illustrating information like source files or charts and graphs.
Use graphics, lines and shading to guide the client’s attention to critical aspects of the
Don't have a "data block." Instead, put constants close to the formulas that use the data.
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Show the Grid - leave Excel's default grid on. Everything takes time, even looking for
blank. By showing where the cells are, you help your reader see the spreadsheet's
structure. While you're at it, try to have columns of similar width, or have good reasons to
vary your column widths or row heights.
Text In Microsoft Excel
In Microsoft Excel, text is any combination of numbers, spaces, and nonnumeric
characters-for example, the following entries are treated as text: 10AA109, 127AXY,
12-976, 208 4675.
Only characters that fit in a column are normally shown. To display all the text on
multiple lines in the cell, select the Wrap Text check box on the Alignment tab.
To include text in a formula, enclose the text in quotation marks; for example: the
formula ="Totals for "&1995 displays the text "Totals for 1995."
To enter a "hard" carriage return in a cell, press ALT+ENTER
Numbers In Microsoft Excel
Numbers that you type in a cell are entered as constant values.
In Microsoft Excel, a number can contain only these characters: 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 + - ( )
, / $ % .
Leading plus (+) signs are ignored, and a single period is treated as a decimal. All
other combinations of numbers and nonnumeric characters are treated as text.
Precede negative numbers with a minus sign (-) or enclose the numbers in
parentheses ( ).
Save your work frequently, make back up copies of your work, and store back ups in a
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PART I - BASIC FORMATTING
To insert a picture on a worksheet or chart sheet, click
the sheet tab for the worksheet or chart sheet.
1. On the Insert menu, point to Picture, and then click
2. Locate the picture you want to insert.
3. Double-click the picture.
Merging Cells for the Spreadsheet title (or any other
1. Select cells clicking in the first cell, holding down the
mouse button and dragging across to the last cell.
2. Click on the Format Menu.
3. Click on Cells option.
4. Click on the alignment tab.
5. Click in the checkbox next to merge cells.
Justification for individual cells:
1. Select the cells you want to align.
2. Click on one of the justification buttons in the
3. Click on the Format menu.
4. Click on cells option.
5. Click on the Alignment tab. Here you can choose
the alignment you want.
Justification for rows and columns
1. Rows: Click on the number of the row you want to
2. Click on the Format menu, click on cells option.
3. Click on the Alignment tab.
4. Columns: Click on the Letter of the column you want
5. Follow the instructions for rows, above
Adjusting Column width:
1. Move the cursor in between columns until the
arrow becomes a black cross hair.
2. Press and hold down the mouse button.
3. Drag the column right or left as desired, or
4. Click on the Format menu.
5. Click on Column. You can choose your width
from here. Autofit will allow Excel to
automatically adjust the column width to fit the
Adjusting Row height:
1. Move the cursor in between rows until the arrow
becomes a black cross hair.
2. Press and hold down the mouse button.
3. Drag the row up or down as desired, or
4. Click on the Format menu.
5. Click on Rows. You can choose your height from here.
Autofit will allow Excel to automatically adjust the
row height to fit the largest entry.
Inserting Rows, columns or cell:
1. Select a cell below where you want to insert a row,
2. Select a cell to the right of where you want to
insert a column.
3. Click on the Insert menu.
4. Click on Rows or Columns. Excel will insert the
row, column or cells and adjust all other
Deleting rows or columns:
1. Select row or column.
2. Click on the Edit menu.
3. Click on Delete.
To clear the contents of cells:
1. Click on the cell, row, or column.
2. Click on the Edit menu.
3. Click on Clear. You can choose what you want to clear
2. Click on the Format menu.
3. Click on cells.
4. Click on the alignment tab. You can now make all
alignment adjustments to the selected text.
5. Click on the menu box for alignment and select.
Format Text Styles
1. Select a column by clicking on the header at the top of
2. Click on the B (Bold) button on the toolbar.
3. Select a row by clicking the row label
4. Click on the Format menu, and repeat.
5. Click on cells.
6. Click on the font tab. Here you can change the style of
the font for the selected text.
1. Select numbers
2. Click on the Format menu.
3. Click on cells.
4. Click on the number tab.
5. Click on number in the category list.
Choose the number of decimal spaces, commas and how
you want negative numbers to be shown.
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Apply cell borders.
1. Click the Outside Borders button and then click
the Border palette.
2. To apply a different border line style, click the
arrow next to Line Style , and then click a line
style on the palette.
3. To apply a different border line color, click
Line Color , and then click a color on the
Add background patterns to an entire sheet
1. Click the sheet to which you want to add a
2. On the Format menu, point to Sheet, and then
3. Select the graphics file to use for the
4. The selected graphic is repeated to fill the
sheet. You can apply solid color shading to
cells that contain data.
Shade cells with patterns
1. Select the cells you want to apply shading to.
2. On the Format menu, click Cells, and then click
the Patterns tab.
3. To include a background color with the pattern,
click a color in the Cell shading box.
4. Click the arrow next to the Pattern box, and
then click the pattern style and color you want.
Shade cells with solid colors
1. Select the cells you want to apply shading to.
2. To apply the most recently selected color, click
Fill Color .
3. To apply a different color, click the arrow next
to Fill Color , and then click a color on the
Enter an automated date or a time
1. Click the cell in which you want to enter a date or a time.
2. To enter today's date, press the CTRL and ; (semicolon) keys. To enter the current
time, press CTRL and SHIFT : (colon) keys.
To change the format of the Date
1. Click in the Date cell.
2. Click on the Format menu.
3. Click on Cells.
4. Click on the Number Tab.
5. Click on Date in the Catagories.
6. Select the type.
7. Click okay.
1. Select the row below where you want the split to appear for horizontal split, or
2. Select the column to the right of where you want a vertical split to appear, or
3. Select the cell below and to the right to freeze both horizontal and vertical.
4. Click on the Window menu.
5. Click on Freeze Panes.
6. To unfreeze click on Unfreeze Panes on the Window menu.
Relative and Absolute references
When you create a formula, references to cells or ranges are usually based upon their
position relative to the cell that contains the formula. In the following example, cell B6
contains the formula =A5; Microsoft Excel finds the value one cell above and one cell to
the left of B6. This is known as a relative referencing.
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When you copy a formula that uses relative references, the references in the pasted
formula update and refer to different cells relative to the position of the formula. In the
following example, the formula in cell B6 has been copied to cell B7. The formula in cell
B7 has changed to =A6, which refers to the cell that is one cell above and to the left of
If you don't want references to change when you copy a formula to a different cell, use an
absolute reference. For example, if your formula multiples cell A5 with cell C1
(=A5*C1) and you copy the formula to another cell, both references will change. You can
create an absolute reference to cell C1 by placing a dollar sign ($) before the parts of the
reference that do not change. To create an absolute reference to cell C1, for example, add
dollar signs to the formula as follows: =A5*$C$1
Entering formulas to calculate a values
You can create a wide variety of formulas in Microsoft Excel, from formulas that
perform a simple arithmetic operation to formulas that analyze a complex model of
A formula can contain functions, which are predefined formulas that perform simple or
Formula Operator Example Description
Addition + =B2+B6 Adds the value
Average - =AVG(B2:B6) Calculates the average of a group of numbers
Count Count =Count(B2:B6) Counts the number of values in a range of cells
Division / =B2/B6 Divides the value
Maximum MAX =MAX(B2:B6) Provides the maximum value in a range of cells
Minimum MIN =MIN(B2:B6) Provides the minimum value in a range of cells
Multiplication * =B2*B6 Multiples the value
SUM SUM =SUM(B2:B6) Sums the total in a range of cells
SQRT SQRT =SQRT(B4) The square root of the value entered in cell B4.
Excel Functions are standardized complex formulas created to obtain commonly needed
result. Functions can return common results like Amortization amounts, Present
Value/Future Value, Standard Deviation and Sine/Cosine for ranges of cells.
Select a function by clicking the function wizard button on the tool bar, and selecting a
function from the list. Next, the function wizard will ask a series of questions to
determine which the source and output cells to use. The output will change when the
source is changed, so functions are dynamic formulas that can be used to test sensivity.
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When worksheets are linked, information is updated only if the source is modified.
Linked data is stored in the source worksheet cells. The destination cell stores only the
location of the source cell and displays a representation of the linked data.
Cell to Cell linking
Cells in one worksheet can be linked to cells in a second worksheet in the same
workbook by simply using formula enter button. Select the destination cell, press the
equals button, and click the source cell.
Linking larger sections with Copy and Paste Operations
Excel provides the usual copy and paste operations, and offers the ability to use the paste
functions to either duplicate data, or to link data to its original location for maximum
When you copy a cell by dragging or by clicking Cut or Copy, and Paste, Microsoft
Excel copies the entire cell, including formulas and their resulting values, comments, and
If the selected copy area (copy area: The cells that you copy when you want to paste data
into another location. After you copy cells, a moving border appears around them to
indicate that they have been copied.), includes hidden cells, Excel also copies the hidden
cells. If the paste area (paste area: The target destination for data that has been cut or
copied by using the Office Clipboard.), contains hidden rows or columns, you might need
to unhide the paste area to see all of the copied cells.
Instead of copying entire cells, you can copy specified contents from the cells. For
example, you can copy the resulting value of a formula without copying the formula itself
or you can copy only the formula. You can also change what part of the cell you pasted
by clicking Paste Options in the lower right corner of your pasted selection.
Using dynamic and linked formulas and worksheets to test sensitivity.
When formulas and functions are wholly conditional, meaning no plug numbers are used,
the output of the calculations will change automatically when the input data is changed.
Changes in the outputs are an expression of sensitivity.
Sensitivity analysis: Analysis of how sensitive outcomes are to changes in the
assumptions. The assumptions that deserve the most attention should depend largely on
the dominant benefit and cost elements and the areas of greatest uncertainty of the
program or process being analyzed.(General Accounting Office)
When these outputs are used as source data for Excel charts the result is a graphic
representation of the sensitivity of the relationships you are testing.
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PART II CHARTS:
Charts are a graphical or a visual presentation of data from a workbook. Excel provides
the user a choice of different types of graph/charts. These choices of charts are: pie, bar,
column, line, area, doughnut, XY, radar, high-low-close, 3-D, and combination graphs.
(See below for a short list of charts). In this workshop, the concentration will be on the
Pie Chart and Column Chart. These two types of charts will give you the basics to create
any other type of Chart.
Charts and Graphs
Chart Type Best Used For
Show variations in the value of an item over time
Bar Graphs Compare values at a given point in time
Line Graph Emphasize trends and changes of value over time
Area Graphs Emphasize the amount of change over time
Pie Graphs To show a percent of a whole
Doughnut Graphs Similar to a Pie graph, but can show more than
one data series
XY (scatter) Graphs Show the difference between two sets of values
Radar Graphs Each series radiates from a central point
High Low Graphs Stock Market Activity
Column Chart is ideal for showing a variation of values over time as with the grades
1. Click on the Chart Wizard Icon on the toolbar.
2. Select Column.
3. Click Next.
4. Click on the Series Tab, this is the place to change or correct data to be included in
5. Click Next.
6. Click in the Titles Box.
7. Type an appropriate title for the chart. Tab to the X Label Box. Type a label for the
X Axis. Tab to the Y Label Box. Type a label for the Y Axis.
Editing or Customizing a Chart
To change or add different elements to a chart helps to clarify the significance of the data.
Excel has made customizing easy by providing option menus or dialog boxes.
Formatting Text on the Whole Chart
1. Double click on the Chart; this displays the Format Chart Area Dialog Box.
2. Click on the Font tab to display the following options.
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3. Select the font, style and size for the chart. Click OK.
Formatting the X and Y Axis
1. Double Click the X Axis, this displays the Format Axis Dialog Box
2. Select the option preferred.
3. To change the Font on X Axis. Click on the Font Tab.
4. Select the preferred font, style and size. Click OK.
5. To change the elements for the Y Axis use the same method.
Editing the Data Series
1. Double Click on the column and Format Series Dialog Box will appear.
2. Click on the Series Order Tab. Kent is highlighted.
3. Click on Move Up, the purple column moves to the left.
4. To change the color of the selected bar, click on Patterns Tab and select the desired
5. Click OK.
6. To deselect the chart, just click anywhere outside of the chart area.
PART III - USEFUL FEATURES
1. Click the cell to which you want to add the comment.
2. On the Insert menu, click Comment.
3. In the box, type the comment text.
4. When you finish typing the text, click outside the comment box.
5. When you sort items on a worksheet, the comments move to new positions with the
items in the sorted rows or columns.
Add a Drop-Down List
Inserting a drop-down list to a cell will ensure that erroneous data is not entered into the
1. Assume that you have an input cell in which the user is supposed to enter a specific
data item like percentage rate.
2. Enter the items for your drop-down list into a list on the worksheet, one item per
cell, in any out-of-the-way location on the worksheet. In Excel terminology, a
rectangular group of cells is called a range.
3. Select the cell that will contain the drop-down list. If you'd like more than one cell
to display the same list, just select them all now rather than setting them up one at a
time. (Click and drag to select a range; hold down Ctrl while you click to select
4. Choose Data, Validation to display the Data Validation dialog box.
5. Click the Settings tab.
6. In the Allow field, select List.
7. In the Source field, specify the range that contains the list items, e.g., type =E1:E12
or whatever the range is, into the field.
8. Click OK.
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After performing these steps, you'll see a drop-down arrow whenever any of the drop-
down cells you just defined is "active" (that is, selected and awaiting input). Click the
arrow and choose a rate from the list. If you try to type something else into the cell, you'll
get scolded in the form of a pop-up message.
If you'd like to provide your own wording for invalid entries, use the Error Alert tab in
the Data Validation dialog box, and enter your own text in the 'Error message' field.
Adding spinner controls
A Spinner is a button with both an up arrow and a down arrow that can be attached to a
cell. Where a drop down box offers discrete values, a spinner offers a continuous
adjustment. To increase a value, click the up arrow; to decrease a value, click the down
1. Make sure the Forms toolbar is displayed (View - Toolbars).
2. On the Forms toolbar, click the button for the control you want to add.
3. On the worksheet, drag the control to the size you want.
4. Right Click on the on the control, select “format control” and adjust the properties as
needed, according to the properties listed below
The control properties for a spinner include:
1. The Current, or default value of the spinner data, which represents the relative
position of the scroll box within the scroll bar.
2. A Minimum value, which represents the minimum spinner position.
3. A Maximum value, which represents the maximum spinner.
4. The Incremental change, which is the amount the value changes when an arrow on
the spinner is clicked.
5. The Cell link, which returns the current value of the spinner. This number can be
used in a formula to return a result based on the position of the spinner output. This is
how you apply spinner data to your formula
After adding a number of additional units of information to the worksheets, it is often
helpful to offer web style hyperlinks to key locations on the worksheets.
Create a hyperlink from cell text
1. Enter the text for the hyperlink.
2. Select the cell or cells that contain the text.
3. Click Insert Hyperlink .
4. If prompted, save the workbook.
5. In the Link to file or URL box, enter the address of the destination file for the
6. If you want the hyperlink to jump to a specific location within the destination file,
type the location in the Named location in file box.
7. If the destination file is a Microsoft Excel workbook, you can click Browse to select a
sheet name, cell or range reference, or defined name.
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Part IV Printing
Headers and Footers
1. Click on the file menu.
2. Click Page Setup.
3. Click on the Headers/Footers tab.
4. Add a custom header by clicking on Custom Header, Click in the Center text area and
type in the text as shown below. Click okay.
5. Add a Footer of page numbers by clicking on the arrow next to the Footer box and
selecting the Page 1 option.
6. Click the OK button.
To Select print area
1. Highlight the cells you want to print.
2. Click on the File menu.
3. Click on Print Area.
4. Click on Set Print Area. .
To print or not print Gridlines:
1. Click on the File menu.
2. Click on Print Preview.
3. Click on Setup.
4. Click on the Sheet tab. Here you can choose how you want the sheet to appear. (Note:
You must have already set the print area to have the Sheets tab available, or you can
specify the range of cells to print in the Print area box.)
5. Click on the Gridlines box to toggle gridlines on or off.
6. To print the entire worksheet with both charts, be sure to select entire worksheet in
the Print screen.
Prevent certain cells, rows or columns from appearing in the defined Print Area
Even after you have selected a specific print area, you may prefer that some information
is left unprinted. For example, you may have some confidential information (such as
employee salaries) in a column, or your sheet may have some intermediate calculations
that the client isn't interested in seeing.
To avoid printing specific rows or columns, just hide them before printing. To hide rows,
select them by clicking the row numbers (click and drag to select a block of rows; hold
down Ctrl while clicking to select non-adjacent rows). Then right-click one of the
highlighted border row numbers and click Hide. Use the same procedure to hide columns
(but right-click a highlighted column letter to choose Hide).
When you're finished printing, you can quickly unhide all rows or columns by selecting
the entire worksheet (click the blank gray box formed by the intersection of the row and
column borders at the top left corner of your spreadsheet). Then right-click a row or
column border and choose Unhide.